Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week 4 in the Philippines

Week 4
Jared's missionary apartment.
 Makes me queasy! 

Kumusta pamilya ko!

Haha it was good to get your emails. I am laughing right now because of what you wrote about customs here (in regards to the package). They do business a little bit differently here, so hopefully the package will actually get to me, haha. If not, well, I'm sure the postal workers will enjoy the exotic Canadian treats, haha. 

So, I found out this morning that cockroaches can fly. Interesting fact. I was walking in to the CR for a shower, and there was a huge one on the back of the door. I went and grabbed our electric fly swatter (best thing I've bought here yet), and pinned the cockroach to the door with the voltage cranked all the way up. It didn't really do anything (those things are invincible) except probably tickle it a little bit, and when I pulled it back, the cockroach jumped off of the door, and flew across the room and landed on me. I very calmly brushed it off and pulverized it with a broom. (I am lying about the very calmly part). Haha, those things are so crazy. They make our day pretty entertaining though. 

We had a lot of people approach us in the last two weeks and ask us to visit them. I was very excited when this happened for the first time, and I couldn't understand why Elder Janolgue kept laughing (subtly) while I wrote down the guys name and address. I found out after that the guy was drunk, and would have no clue who we were when we visited him the next day. We had another guy come up to us, take one of my hands in both of his, and say (in tagalog of course), "Brothers. I want to join the church. Please visit me tomorrow, and I will give myself to Jesus." After which, we gave him a Word of Wisdom pamphlet, and set an appointment. We visited him soon after, (he was drunk again), and he hadn't read the pamphlet. We'll see how he is later, haha. Another guy grabbed my hand in the supermarket (definitely drunk) and said, "Sir...you are very handsome." He then asked me in Tagalog if I would kiss him on the cheek. I vehemently (but politely) declined, and did not set an appointment with him, haha. 
One of the saddest things I saw this week was yesterday. We went to visit one of the Inactive members way out in the bukid. He had once been the Elders Quorum President and the 2nd Counselor in the Branch - super active. When we finally got to his house, we called for him and he staggered out, dressed in filthy clothes, most of his teeth missing.He was so drunk that he could barely talk, and I thought he was going to throw up the whole time we were there. He managed to slur out, "Elders, I am already drinking. My family never came to church with me, so I left." (That is the jist of it, Elder Janolgue explained the situation to me afterwards). Because this man's family had never been active in the church with him, he stopped going, and eventually found his way into drinking and smoking. He told us, that if we could get his family to go to church with him, he would quit smoking and drinking and come back to church. We made an appointment to teach his daughter in law, so I really hope it goes well. It is just so sad to see somebody that used to be so faithful become so addicted and lost.

It is really difficult for me here sometimes. Everyone here thinks that if you are white, you are rich (and we are, compared to what it is like here. There is NO SUCH THING as poverty in North America. The people living on the streets in America have more than many of the people here). And many people will ask me for money. It is usually easy to say no, because it is against the mission rules to hand out money, and usually the people asking are only asking so that they can buy alcohol or drugs. But sometimes, it is just heartbreaking. I had a older man approach me the other day and ask if I could help him. He obviously had some addiction problems, and there was a cigarette in his hand. Through his tears, he said, "I have no job, and I can't afford to buy rice. I live in a bamboo house. Will you come visit me?" We explained that we could not help him financially, but that we could visit him and teach him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.That wasn't what he wanted though, and he left. I wanted to tell him, "If you would just quit smoking and drinking, you could buy rice. You could fix your house, you could feed your family. You would have a job." But it would be no use. Cigarettes are very cheap here. It is about the equivalent of 25 cents Canadian for a pack of 10, and a single stick only costs 1 peso. Alcohol is also cheap, about 50 cents Canadian for a beer and 1.00 or 1.50 for rum and other hard-liquor. Almost everyone here smokes and drinks, and it is a huge challenge for our investigators and even in the branch.  

Anyway, on the flip-side we visited a part member family this week (the wife is a very strong member, she has two less active teenage sons, the husband is not a member) and it was an amazing lesson. The wife, Sister Oliveros, asked us to try and teach her husband. She wants to be sealed in the temple with her family more than anything, and she really wants her husband to join the church. Brother Oliveros had been taugh before by the missionaries, but stopped coming to church because he was offended, and embarrassed because he wasn't able to take the sacrament (he has a problem with smoking). Their house is very far away (our area is huge), so we picked an afternoon to travel there and teach them and went to their house. They live in a really cool bamboo/coconut wood house. It is pretty big. They farm rice and grow papayas, and Bro. Oliveros is a tricycle driver. Anyways, when we got in, it took Sister Oliveros a few minutes to get Bro. Oliveros to come sit down (he was excited for our visit and busy preparing a plate of fresh papaya for us). We got to know him, and talked about his family and job. He is such a humble, nice guy, and his family is awesome. After we got to know him, we shared a lesson about families. It was the most amazing lesson I've had yet. We talked about how god loves us, and how he wants families to be eternal, so that we can be happy. Elder Janolgue and I pulled out pictures of our families, and talked about how important you are to us. We were able to bear our testimonies on the importance of families, and being sealed in the temple. The spirit was very strong, and we were both fighting back tears the whole time. We asked him what was stopping him from being baptized and sealed to his family, and he talked about his addiction to smoking. He shared his desire to quit with us, and we promised him that we would help him, and that he would be blessed and helped by God for his desire. We ended by asking him if he would come back to church, and begin to prepare for baptism. He said yes, and he came to church yesterday for ALL THREE MEETINGS (that is significant, because most of the active members don't even stay for all of the meetings) with his wife and kids. He really wants to be with his family forever, and we are so excited to help him overcome his addiction and help him be sealed to his family. It was such a good lesson. Sister Oliveros told us after that she thinks it went well, and she shared with us another one of the problems that Brother Oliveros had. He had been driving his trike back to the warehouse, and he saw the Branch President (who is also a trike driver) smoking in the warehouse. That is kind of alarming to us, because that is the second time we've heard from somebody that the branch President had been smoking. We aren't quite sure what to do about it, or if it is even true. We wrote a letter to our mission president about it though. 

Anyway, that is the highlight of our week. One of our biggest goals right now is to work through the members to find success, and it has been a challenge because the Branch Presidency haven't really been supporting that (President and First Counselor - the second counselor is great). They are always too busy to help us visit less actives (with stupid things like basketball games and dinners, not actual good excuses to be busy) and it is nearly impossible to get them to organize activities and coordinate them with us. There are two amazing families in the ward that we have been working with and they help us by having FHE for our investigators or coming out with us to visit. Brother Agustin (the second counselor) is especially great. He usually will come out with us to our lessons all Sunday afternoon and evening. He is a convert and great help to us. 

Anyways, business at home. That is really too bad about Josh's arm. I hope it heals quickly. I think about Josh a lot here...he would love the Philippines. EVERYONE plays basketball here. The different towns all have a gym and a league team, and different teams will travel all over the country and play in different gyms. They are very popular and intense (we watched about five minutes of one after our lessons one night), and to be on one of those league teams is the dream of most little kids here. But yeah, hopefully Josh's arm will get better soon.

That's so exciting that Christmas is coming up. I believe it that the Philippines is the happiest place in the world for Christmas...everyone has decorations up and our neighbors blast Christmas songs every morning nice and loud. I will hopefully be able to send some handwritten stuff to you all. I think I will use most of the money to buy 'secret santa' stuff for members of the branch, haha. 

I love you all. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Week three

Picture Jared took when he first got to Manilla before heading on a bus to the mission home in Angeles.

Week Three?! I can't believe it. Haha I wish time had gone this fast in the MTC. 

This week has been pretty alright. I ate some Silog last Monday (basically a piece of meat with rice, a fried egg, some spicy lime sauce and a big pile of rice) and the egg wasn't cooked all the way...but I ate it anyways. No big deal, until I started feeling sick that afternoon, haha. I wasn't too worried at first, but when I found out that the bottle of Pepto Bismol I keep on me always (just in case I have appointments that I can't miss...normally I wouldn't take anything like that) was missing from my pack, I almost had a heart attack. In desperation, I ran to a pharmacy and asked if they had any of the pink sludge. Well, they didn't. But they sold me these little white pills for 30 pesos each (expensive...almost a dollar each). We had a lot of appointments that evening, and then a full day on Tuesday, and I was determined to make it through the day without having to return to the apartment. So I followed the instructions on the pills and took a few on Tuesday and got through all the lessons. On Tuesday night, I slept for about two hours. We had eaten Tilapia at a members house that night, and my stomach felt like the fish was trying to chew its way out again, haha. Long story short - after a hellish night of throwing up and abdominal pain, I spent all of Wednesday in bed (and in the CR). I stopped taking pills, and I didn't eat anything. Our neighbor (who is super nice) found out I was sick and brought me some crackers. She then prescribed me a big jug of Gatorade, crackers (the crackers here are amazing - they are called Sky Flakes, and have like 30% saturated fat, haha) apples and bananas. I was able to make a quick trip to the market, and spent the next two days on that diet, and I feel better now. I used the blue box and the enzymes throughout the diet also, and the difference between drugs and home remedies is enormous. Next time, instead of spending 240 pesos on medication, I'm just going to buy a box of crackers, some gatorade, and some apples, haha. 

Haha, apart from the first half of the week, it has been a great week. We were teaching the mother of one of our investigators for the first time, and I was talking about how our purpose as missionaries is to help people come closer to Christ through following his example. I was reading a scripture, and I noticed that the verse after it was about baptism. It all just seemed to fit, so I read it. After I read it, I was kind of thinking, "Oh no...Elder Hubbard, this is the first lesson. She doesn't even know what the Book of Mormon is yet!" I was quiet for a couple seconds, and Elder Janolgue gave me a nudge and snapped me out of my thoughts and I asked, "Nanay, gagawin po ba ninyo magbinyag?" (That sentence translates to "Nanay, will you to baptize?" I said it wrong...but she got the message, haha). She was very quiet for a minute, probably because she was trying to translate what I had just said, haha. Then she said, "No. But I want to listen to your messages. After a few more visits, I will make a decision about baptism." It was a great lesson, and I left with a really good feeling. Later that day, we were able to challenge another one of our investigators to baptism, and she accepted. We are excited for her, because her husband passed away quite some time ago, and her children are all less active members. If she follows through and prepares to be baptised  then the whole family will be able to come out to church, which would be awesome for her family and for the branch. 

We have a lot of new investigators, which is always good. I've found that most of our serious investigators are older women or teenagers, which is good, but we are really glad when we are able to teach the father of the home. Most adult brethren will not continue to take the lessons after one or two lessons, and there is a huge problem in the Branch with inactivity in the Elders Quorum. There were only six of us yesterday...that's including Elder Janolgue and I and the Branch Presidency. So yeah...only one elder showed up for elders Quorum. We made a list of all the Elders in the branch, and there are like 30 or 35 that don't usually show up. We have some serious work to do in the branch. We've talked to the Branch President about calling some branch missionaries to help us fellowship them. They will have to be priest-age recent converts (Brian and Louie, who have both been members for less than a year, but are really strong in the church) because there just aren't enough active Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the Branch. In the meantime, we have been going out with Tatay Augustin, the second counselor in the Branch, once a week to visit investigators and less actives. He is great to work with. He used to be Catholic and was inactive for a time after his baptism, so his words really help less actives because he knows exactly what they are feeling. He is really quiet, and speaks Illocano fluently, and bears a strong testimony at the end of all our lessons. The fact that he speaks Illocano helped us finally teach the father of one of the recent converts in the branch. This father speaks mostly Illocano, so we were able to teach him the first lesson with Brother Augustin translating certain phrases into Illocano. It has been a blessing to work with him and I am excited to work with Brian and Louie too.

I didn't really eat anything too weird this week. Just goat, which is delicious. I can't even really describe how it tastes...but it was super good. I am trying to train myself to eat fat - they like fat here, so every time there is meat in a dish, there are usually huge chunks of fat in it too. They actually have a dish that is JUST fat...not too excited for that, haha. I've been practicing by cutting off little pieces and eating them with a mouthful of rice, haha. I've also decided that I hate liver. It is so gross. I'd rather eat chicken intestines again than liver, haha. 

So how is everyone doing at home? The ZL's still don't have our mail from the President, so I haven't gotten any of the stuff that you have probably sent. Usually we get mail more often, but the ZL's haven't seen President Martino for a while. I imagine that there is a lot of snow by now, and that everyone is eating lots of Christmas treats. It is funny here...they are crazy about Christmas, and I wake up every morning to really upbeat Christmas music. There are a lot of Christmas lights and decorations made of drinking straws hanging around houses, and occasionally there is a little Christmas tree. It just doesn't feel like Christmas without snow. In your last email, you talked about how you want to have a simple, thrifty, homemade Christmas this year and focus on giving. I have a feeling that all of the Christmases here in the Phils are like that. People don't have enough money for lavish presents or massive feasts and parties. I'm excited for my first Christmas here, I'm sure that it will be really special. 

Jameson/Jarom: Hey guys! I think about you both a lot, especially when I see all of the little kids here. You would both love it in the Philippines. You wouldn't have to wear shoes, and there are animals everywhere - especially chickens and goats. And dogs. SO Many dogs. The dogs are scary though. They travel around the streets in packs, and they like to bark and try and bite you (bad news if they do...rabies shot). But they are also scared of us, so if we raise our umbrellas and run at them, or bend down and pick up a rock, they will all run away (true story. I was a little bit worried when we were walking through one of the fields the other night and a pack of six or seven started running at us. Elder Janolgue just turned around and ran towards them and they all scattered. The dogs here are scary, but they aren't very brave, thank goodness).

I have been having great experiences with reading the scriptures every day. I am studying in the New Testament right now. I take my vitamins every day, and I am usually pretty healthy. I am always super hungry though, haha, but am eating three meals a day with lots of snacks (I think it is just the walking every day that makes me hungry). The snacks here are pretty good if you get the right ones. My favorites are Mani (peanuts with big chunks of roasted garlic) and Lumpia (deep fried egg roll...sometimes a street vendor will have them) which is delicious with sugar cane vinegar (the vinegar bottles are full of hot peppers, which give the vinegar a good kick...so good). We ran into a guy selling homemade donuts off of the back of his bicycle the other day. We gave him a pamphlet am bought a couple donuts, which tasted like heaven.

How was your trip to the island, Dad? I love it out there too. I can't wait to hike the West Coast Trail again in the next few years. Mom, I show lots of people our family picture, and they always say, "This is your Mother?! She is beautiful!" haha, just thought you should know. But yeah, I am doing pretty well. There are hard days sometimes with lots of challenges, and I would be lying if I said I didn't miss home and all of you guys, but I know that this is where I am supposed to be, and that the Lord has my back. I know that this church is true, without a doubt, and I want to do whatever I can to improve every day. When I was really sick on  Wednesday, the Zone leaders called me and asked if I was okay. I told them that I felt like I was dying, but that I'd probably make it. Elder Biggs (my ZL from England) told me, "Well Elder, you are still alive, and the church is true." That has become my new colloquial phrase, and when I am having a hard time, I tell myself, "Elder, you're still alive, and the church is true." haha. 

I love you all, and I am excited for the next week.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Week 2

Kumusta pamilya ko!

Kumusta po ang linggo ninyo?

Haha my week was pretty good. I've learned a ton about the Philippines, and Cuyapo (my area). We have five new investigators this week, and several less active members came back to church yesterday, so the work is going pretty well. We still have a lot of improvements to make, but I'm sure they will happen fast as my Tagalog gets better. 

We taught a sister yesterday - she was visiting a member family, and we happened to arrive at their house, and ended up teaching her instead of them. We can't remember her name, but we have it written down, haha. She is an older lady (nanay, which is basically 'mother' sa Tagalog, but also shows respect to older women. Tatay is for older men or fathers) with several children. Her husband is a member of the Iglacia ni Cristo, which is a crazy strict Christian church that was founded by an ex Mormon. Anyone that is caught talking with Mormon missionaries in that church is excommunicated...so when we meet her husband, it will be interesting, haha. Another rule that the Iglacia have, is that only the priest in the church can hold the bible and read it. Weird huh?

Anyways, we taught her from the pamphlet about the restoration, and specifically focused on how the gospel blesses families. Elder Janolgue did most of the teaching (my Tagalog isn't quite there yet), but I was able to explain to her that our purpose as missionaries is to help people and their families become happy through following Jesus Christ's example and receiving the ordinance of the gospel. I noticed, at one point in the lesson, that this Sister had tears in her eyes. The spirit was very strong, and we felt prompted to sing a hymn for her at the end of the lesson. We chose 'Families Can be Together Forever," and she thanked us and agreed to have us visit her again. After she left, wiping her eyes, I couldn't help but feel really really happy. The week before, we had many investigators who hid from us and didn't answer their doors, or told their kids to tell us that they weren't home, and we felt discouraged. There was one day, where like six of our seven lessons just 'weren't home'. We had been praying to find new people to teach, and for success, and this lesson with this sister was our answer. It was definitely the highlight of my week. The other lessons we had were good, but I knew that our message had really touched the heart of this sister. 

We are teaching Glen still, and he is making some progress. We just finished talking about the Plan of Salvation with him, and gave him a Book of Mormon. We asked him to pray about Joseph Smith, and he said that he didn't receive an answer, but he felt like there was peace in his mind. He is pretty interesting...whenever we set appointments with him, he forgets, but we will always run into him later in the day and will be excited to talk with us. We haven't got to the Word of Wisdom or Law of Chastity yet, but those will be interesting. I have yet to see him without a cigarette in his hand and, well, the Law of Chastity is always interesting because so many people think it is crazy, haha. I'm excited to see where he goes with it all though. 

The active members here are awesome. Many of them have only been members for a year or two, and hold big callings. The first Councillor is only 22 or 23 and is a single returned missionary. We are fed twice a week by the Argueza family and once a week by the Darang family. They are all so nice, and I know it is a sacrifice for them to feed us. They will absolutely not let me leave the table until I've had thirds. I think that they view foreigners as eating machines, haha. I have been enjoying the food, and especially the rice. It tastes way better here than it does in North America. The thing is, we eat so much rice compared to the amount of protein and fat that we eat, that I always feel hungry after. I've eaten like five plates of rice in one go, with a couple of eggs and some noodles, and I will leave the house feeling like I could use a snack. An hour later, I could easily eat another five plates. It's like I'm never full! Maybe I have a tapeworm or something, haha. Elder Janolgue and I made deep fried chicken the other day. They have this stuff called 'Crispy Fry,' (Basically flour and MSG, haha) that you can batter chicken/frog/whatever with and it makes some awesome flavours. The chicken was super good, and we had it over rice with some of the hot sauce you sent me. Elder Janolgue put a LOT of hot sauce on his, and he was pretty surprised, haha. I ate some weird stuff this week too: Isau, which is grilled chicken intestines, and Sabaw, which is a soup made from kidneys and intestines. The Isau was alright...it was really chewy and pasty tasting...I put a lot of vinegar on it, haha. And the Sabaw was really pretty gross. I couldn't get past the smell, but I choked it down anyways. 

There are only 7 or eight active Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the branch, but one of our recent converts (he was baptized right before I got out here) was just barely ordained a priest. His name is Louie Domingo. He plays the guitar and is probably the most legit-looking Filipinos I have seen. He looks like the lead singer of Tokyo Hotel (kind of). He is great, and a strong part of the Branch here, even though he is so new. The Branch President seems like a good guy too...except, he asked me for money the other day. He wanted 1000 pesos to help a member of his branch with some troubled they are having. He told me that he would pay me back when he received the budget for the branch. I told him I'd see what I could do, but I left with a really bad feeling about it, and then I read in the white handbook that it is forbidden to lend money to people. I wrote to President Martino about it, and I am just going to tell the BP that I am not supposed to lend money. 

I am also the Branch Organist (the 'Organ' is a really tiny keyboard). All of the Hymns are in English for some reason here, so it is really funny in sacrament meeting to hear everyone sing. Everyone sings their hearts out and the spirit is present, but there is a complete lack of tone and the words all sound wrong because the vowel sounds are different in Tagalog. I've had many people come up to me and ask if I could could teach piano lessons to their children. I wish I had time, but we are just so busy here. I have been talking with some people though, and they might be able to set up a night when people would come in to the Meeting house and I would teach them the basics of reading music and piano. It would be cool if that worked out. 

We do have a meetinghouse here...it is very small, but it has enough room for the 30% or so of the members that are active, haha. They are currently building a newer building that will be finished in April, and it will be much newer and bigger. There is no carpet in the philippines, so all of the church buildings have tile floors or concrete. The newer buildings here are very nice and well maintained, so it will be great to have one in Cuyapo. Our branch is small, but Elder Janolgue and I have been working hard to get more people to come out to church. It can be a chore at times...lots of less actives will see us coming down the street from their window and they will close their doors and hide. It can be frustrating sometimes, but also pretty funny. Last week, we were going to visit a less active brother in the ward. We had seen him duck into his house quick from way back on the road where we were walking. We walked up to his fence and yelled "Tao po!" And one of his little kids came out of the house (he was probably about Jameson's age) and said, "Wala Tatay." (Tatay is not here). Elder Janolgue (bear in mind that we knew that this kid was lying because we had seen his dad walk into the house) asked him a few other questions to try and trick him into telling us where Tatay really was, but he just gave us the same answer. Finally, Elder Janolgue yelled, "Aiyos, alis kami." (Alright, we are leaving) and we started to walk off. Then he turned around, his scriptures open, and read from 2 Nephi aloud to this little kid in Tagalog, "And behold, woe unto the liar, for they shall be thrust down to Hell." Then he said, "Do you know what Hell it?" and the little kid shook his head, and Elder Janolgue proceeded to tell him all about Hell and liars, and then we walked off, leaving this poor kid standing there with a horrified expression on his face. I felt pretty bad for him, so I walked back and gave him a treat and told him not to worry, haha. It was pretty funny.

So, you know how I wrote in my last email that the bugs weren't too bad? Well, I take that back now. We have a lot of spiders in our apartment, but they are all little ones with spindly legs (or so I thought). Part of our bathroom ceiling is rotten, and there is a pretty big crack in the corner. I was showering the other day, and I happened to look up there in the crack, and I saw these black pipe-cleaner things sticking out of it. I looked closer...and they were LEGS. These things were about as long as my finger. I grabbed a flashlight, and shined it up there, and there was the BIGGEST SPIDER I've ever seen. It was easily the size of my whole hand. I wasn't able to get a picture of it, but it's still there. I'm too scared to try and kill it, and Elder Janolgue kind of just laughed when I pointed it out to him. I talked to some of the members about it, and they were all like, "Oh, yes. Malaki-gagamba (big spider). Bery poisonous. If it bites you...go to doctor." Comforting. Haha. I hope it doesn't try and eat me when I am in the shower.

Another thing I've learned this week is that cockroaches are practically invincible. I killed my first one last week. It was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, and I picked up this heavy broom we have and slammed it down on this cockroach (two hands raised over my head, I might add) with a blow that would have killed most house-cats, and I only managed to stun it. It took me about five minutes to smash it. The carnage involved with killing a cockroach is sickening. I watched elder Janolgue come down on one full force with his foot, grind it into the floor with his heel, and smear it back and forth a couple of times. It looked like it was dead for about five minutes (it was spread around about a square foot of the house). We had just started personal study, and I looked over and watched the biggest piece of it  peel itself off the floor and start to walk again. I was all like, "ELDER! IT'S ALIVE!" and he smashed it one more time. So gross, haha, but you had to know the details. 

Another funny story. We were out visiting less active members last night with a brother from the ward, and it was super dark. We were walking through one of the Bukits (rice fields) on a raise path beside a couple of flooded fields. The brother from the ward, right as we are walking through this, starts talking about cobras. Apparently there are a lot of cobras in Cuyapo, and they get about three or four feet long sometimes. He also mentioned that they almost always gather near water, which was not very comforting to me as I walked along the shoreline of a flooded rice field in the pitch darkness with only Herman (my penguin flashlight) and an umbrella to protect me. I didn't see any though. Hopefully next time, haha. 

Haha, I know it probably sounds like I am having a hard time with all of the bugs and the filthiness and stuff, but I'm really not. I just think it's hilarious to talk about. I am really used to everything now, and I actually enjoy it. It is a huge adventure for me. I find that I am happier and more focused on the work 

Thank you for all the support. I am doing well. I forgot my aux. cord again, so I apologize for the lack of pictures. There will definitely be some next time. 

I love you all :) 

Oh, and by the way. My Pday is on Monday...which would be Sunday for you guys. We are a day ahead here. 
My area is one of the farthest north in the mission. It takes about 6-8 hours to get to the mission home in Angeles from where I'm at. It is just North from Tarlac, if you are trying to find it on a map. (Tarlac is the closest major city to us. Paniqui is the closest city to us - I'm actually emailing you from Paniqui, haha - and then as you move further north there is Anao and then Cuyapo, where I am.  

I added these for all our readers to see where Elder Hubbard is on a map and the weather. Pretty warm! Also a little info about the town he is living in. 
Nov 13th
Nov 14th
Nov 15th
Nov 16th
Nov 17th
Mix of Cloud and Sun
Mix of Cloud and Sun
Mostly Cloudy with Showers
Mix of Sun and Cloud


Cuyapo is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Nueva Ecija, Philippines.

According to the latest census, it has a population of 55,456 people in 11,337 households.

The name "cuyapo" is derived from the word "kuyapo" (kiapo), a water plant that looks like a flower, bearing the scientific name Pistia Stratiocis, Linn.

It is located in the northwest portion of the province, and is the boundary of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pangasinan provinces. 

The municipality is is primarily an agricultural area.

Ilocano and Tagalog are the major languages spoken here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

First week in the Philippines

Kumusta Pamilya ko!                                                                              November 5, 2012

This is my first week in the Phils, and it has been very interesting, and busy, haha.
Firstly, it was great talking to everyone on the phone last week. I wish I had a 6 hour phone card - I would have used the whole thing. 
Secondly, I forgot my aux. cord...so I don't have any pictures this week. I will get a whole bunch up next week though.

So, you are all probably wondering where I am about now. I am sitting in an internet cafe, surrounded by Filipinos playing WOW and watching youtube videos, haha. I am in Paniqui, which is the main city in my zone. My area is Cuyapo...a small group of barangays (neighborhoods) out in the bukit (rice fields). There is one very small branch here, with about 70 members (about 30 or forty attend every week). My trainer is Elder Janolgue (han-ol-gee). He is very quiet, but speaks great English. He is about 5'3...so I feel like a giant around him, haha. 

Actually, I feel like a giant everywhere here, haha. Everyone here, for the most part, is under 5'6 so it gives me one reason to be happy, haha. 

I will tell you my whole travel story:
So, after a long flight from San Fran to Hong Kong (I got some weird noodles in the HK airport...I had no clue what was in them...I will send the picture next week) and then another flight to Manila, I hopped into a van with Elders Williams, Morgan, Clark, and Sister Huddleston. Our driver was named Joni...and he was awesome. He told me that someday he would visit Canada, and I told him to add me on Facebook, haha. Everyone drives like a maniac here. It's astiq (cool), but there were a few times on that first van ride that I thought I would die. In one case our driver turned into oncoming traffic, pedal to the floor, and motored it for a whole block , dodging tricycles and pedestrians. There are little to no traffic rules here, and there are people everywhere. I have yet to see an accident though, everyone just signals with their horns and whoever is driving the smaller vehicle yields, haha.

We got to the mission home in one piece, and spent one night there with President and Sister Martino. They are both super nice, and from Texas (sometimes I'm not sure if it is easier to understand the filipinos or them, haha). President took us all out for ice cream the night before we left and gave us a quick tour of his part of Angeles. We met our trainers the next day and got assigned to our various areas. Elder Morgan got assigned to Baler, which is by the beach, so everyone is saying that he is really lucky. Apparently, the work is very slow there though. Elder Williams got sent to a place out in the boonies called Santa Ignacia, which apparently is pretty rough. I forget where Elder Clark was sent. 

We took a bus and then a trike to get to Cuyapo, which is really far up North. I talked to the trike driver in Taglish about the church, and got him to commit to a visit from the sisters (he was out of our area). He spoke pretty good English, so I don't know if it really counts, haha. 

When we got to our flat, I was pretty grossed out. The first thing I saw was a lizard on the cupboard and a dead cockroach on the floor. There were ants everywhere. The floor is filthy, and the sink and counter are gross. The CR (bathroom/ Comfort Room)...I could write a whole paragraph about how nasty it is, but I'll just say this: Picture the nastiest outhouse you've ever seen, give it a tile floor and a shower faucet, and times its nastiness by thirty. I'd still take it over our bathroom, haha. The toilet is more like half of a toilet (you'll see when I send the pictures, haha), and the ceiling is rotten. Everything from the shower drains down a whole in the middle of the floor, and there is no toilet paper (I will explain that much later...although, it is not as gross as you are probably thinking, haha). I shake all of the ants out of my bedsheet every night before I climb in. 
My first thought was: "Wow. The church really shelled out for this." But then we started visiting the members, and I realized that what I have here is a luxury. I am lucky to have a toilet and shower, and a sink with running water. I am so lucky to have a bed, with a mattress and a sheet and a nice electric fan to keep me cool at night. The people in Cuyapo are so poor (for the most part), and we have taught lessons to people in bamboo huts with dirt floors and no electricity, with 7 or 8 people living there in a space about as big as my bedroom. Many of them are rice farmers, who spend all day outside in the heat and mosquitoes just to come back to a dark, sweaty hut. Everyone is so nice here though. We rarely have anything rude said to us, and many people offer us food and 'sopt drrinks!' (roll the 'r's - Filipino for pop, haha), even though they barely have enough to feed their families that day. My first night here, one of the neighbors brought us some Ube cake (purple sweet potato cake) topped with cheese, and some sticky rice with a huge bottle of Sparkle (really yummy orange pop). She knew that I was new, and she wanted to welcome me. The members also feed us twice a week, which is a really big sacrifice for them sometimes. We try to be polite and not eat too much, but they wont let us. They will wait until we are finished eating sometimes before they will begin, and they won't let us leave the table until we've had at least two helpings. These are the nicest people in the world, and I've been so touched by their kindness in the last few days. 

The food here is really good...we eat rice for every meal, which I've actually started to like. My Comp. loves to eat eggs in the morning, with rice and Magic Sarap (literally, a packet of pure MSG and chicken flavor that you put in food). I have to admit, it's pretty good, haha. 
We were walking through one of the barangays on saturday, and I saw a little boy (probably about 9 or 10) with a fishing pole and a big net. Elder Janolgue walked up to him and started talking with him. I caught enough of the conversation to know that the net was full of frogs from the Bukit, and that Elder Janolque was negotiating a price for them. They made a deal, despite my attempts to protest (Okay lang, Elder! Ayow! Huminto na! haha), and the little boy (who is probably Jamesons size) proceeded to cut up the frogs with a machete and put them in a bag for us. On Sunday morning, Elder Janolgue cleaned them up and threw them in a pan with some soy sauce and garlic. It was surprisingly delicious. The meat tasted exactly like chicken. 

That is my only crazy food experience as of yet...but I will have more. 

There are many investigators here, and a lot of recent converts. We found a new investigator on friday named Glen. He came to visit one of our recent converts while we were teaching her. He asked us a few questions, and we asked him if he wanted to hear a message. He said, "I am Catholic, and I will not change religions...but I am interested in discussing god with you." We kind of grinned a little bit, and started our 'discussion', which was all about the restoration of Joseph Smith. He listened very intently, and the spirit was really strong. He understood English well, so I was able to add things to the lesson and bear my testimony in Taglish at the end. I could tell that our message of the restored gospel had really hit home for him. We asked him if we could meet with him on Wednesday, and he said, "Yes...we can have another talk on Wednesday about religion." I think our next 'talk' will be on eternal families, haha. 

We have a lot of investigators, but Glen sticks out the most this week. I will have to tell you more next week. 

I am doing well. I am healthy and pretty happy. I have a lot of nosebleeds every day, haha, but other than that I am doing good. The heat is brutal, and the bugs are huge, but I love this country already, and I love the people. I have many challenges still, but I know that the Lord will help me overcome them in his way and in his time. 

I love you guys,
Thanks for everything,

Love Jared.